Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Birding in a pandemic

I think I’d be happy spending the majority of my days photographing birds. Or trying to anyway. And I’m lucky that, even with the pandemic keeping us home more, I still have lots of birds to study, right in my own backyard.

I get a lot of images like this. Not intentionally.

Of course I am frustrated by reflections in windows, and sheltie girls that move just as I’m getting that shot, disrupting the carefully posing feathered ones.

The male cardinals get so much attention, but if you really look, the females are just beautiful.

I’ve tried to get around the sheltie interruption by sneaking past her when she’s sleeping, but it sure seems like she only closes one eye lately and she’s always up to see what I’m focused on. She assumes there’s trouble outside if I spend too much time at the window, and she feels a responsibility to handle it for her mama.

Look at all the different colors she carries around with her.

And of course I’d love to be outside with the birds, not shooting through a window, and I’ve tried that. The birds aren’t too frightened if I stand in the far corner of the deck and stay still. I’m sure they’d get used to having me around and come down from the trees when I put out fresh food if I keep trying.

A dancing chickadee comes down for an irresistible peanut.

But then again, there’s the sheltie-girl who puts up a howl when I’m outside and she’s not. So more sneaking around might be in order.

OK, the guys are pretty too. It’s just that they’re so OBVIOUS about it.

Once I tried taking her with me out on the deck and only the chickadees would tolerate her. Plus she doesn’t know how to stand still. She’s a princess you know, and a princess does not stand in the corner.

My first time seeing a Carolina wren at my feeder. She (I decided it’s a she) was sooooo cute!

And I’m thinking about getting a longer lens so I don’t have to crop so much. So much detail is lost, and so many interesting things are just outside the reach of the lens I have, though it’s a very nice lens.

Lots of people don’t like these starlings, but just LOOK at the color!

Still. I have so much fun trying. I’m pretty sure you don’t mind looking at my birds either, right?

This little guy used to be shy but now he’s one of my vocal visitors. Especially if the feeders are empty.

Katie says she thinks you’d rather look at her, and that might be so, but this is not called Katie’s blog, so once in awhile I think we have to focus on something else.

Now this is another prevalent bird…er….how did HE get in this series?

But don’t tell her that, I don’t need a mutiny here at home. Especially during a pandemic.

So much fun to watch!


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First there was frost

Saturday was predicted to have sun, the first day of sunshine this year. I needed to get out of the house, where I’d been stewing since Wednesday, the day our Capitol was stormed.

The early morning road was calling my name.

I planned on taking a little photo road trip, to parts unknown. But first I couldn’t resist shooting some images close to home. I was headed out of town when I passed Katie’s park and noticed the hills were all silver with frost.

Our local library, next to Katie’s park, with preservation hills behind it.

Turning around I tromped around a field of grasses, noticing how their details were more beautiful with the beading they were sporting.

Everything was etched in sparkles.

I got pretty cold, and time moved on without me while I was there, still only a couple miles from home.

Early morning light always makes me smile.

Eventually I made myself leave, the sun was rising and I hadn’t gotten anywhere yet. But only another mile down the road I had to stop again.

One of my go-to places where I can see the open sky.

There’s some wide open farm land there, and an old farm, that if you look closely, is falling into dumpy disrepair. I’m sure it won’t be there forever, and I’ve always meant to stop and capture it.

Somebody’s farm in the early morning light of a new day.

So I did.

Plus, where I happened to stop there was this fence…

The fence was glowing as the sun was rising.

…with barbed wire along the top. All of it incrusted with frost.

More time went by and the sun moved higher. If I was going to find more pretty stuff I needed to get moving.

Should I go that way? Or the other way?

But where did I go? What did I find?

I guess you’ll have to wait until the next post to find out.

At least the blue sky prediction turned out to be true!


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Sharing sheltie smiles

Hey everyone! Katie here, checking in to see how all your new years are starting out. I have to say that mine has been stupendous! Cause we got snow both Saturday and Sunday! Fresh, pretty, light, beautiful, photogenic snow!

So many things to sit in front of!

Well, not as photogenic as me, but still pretty. And of course mama said we had to get right out in it so as to enhance the photogenic-ness of our yard. On Saturday I wasn’t sure I wanted to go.

It’s pretty nice out here, mama.

But once I got out there and realized that mama and I were going for a walk in my yard and she wasn’t just leaving me in my pen, well, then I decided I’d have a good time!

I kept posing for her, even when she was trying to get a photo of some stupid leaf. I’d just go around in front of her and sit. Repeatedly. Even after I figured out she hadn’t brought any treats for me.

I wonder if anyone over THERE has any treats?

Eventually she got the idea and took some pictures of me before she went back to her artsy fartsy stuff. I swear, I don’t know why anyone would want to look at anything besides me.

Mama kept looking over my shoulder at this stupid leaf. She thought it was cool.

Then on Sunday, oh my, oh my, oh my…this is what we woke up to!

Isn’t this amazing??!

It was even more beautiful than Saturday’s snowfall! Mama and I just couldn’t wait to get out there with the camera.

Let’s go exploring!

I was less interested in posing for her Sunday. After all, I’d sat for a bunch of pictures on Saturday and gotten zero treats. I figured she wasn’t any more organized Sunday morning and I was right.

What? I’m not sitting in front of this bush, I did that yesterday and it netted me nothing.

But I did grant her a picture or seven dozen. Sigh. You just can’t get mama to stop taking pictures, even when there are much more interesting things to do. Like breaking up sticks. I found this perfect stick and went right to work on it.

This stick is oversized and needs to be reduced in length. Pronto.

Mama said, ‘stop baby, you don’t want to hurt your teeth.’ But I kept on working on that stick because it needed to be broken up into little tiny bits.

Yep, it’s a pesky stick, that’s what it is.

It’s my purpose in this world to break up sticks. And protect mama from squirrels, but a girl has priorities and Sunday morning it was all about stick breakage.

Come on you stubborn stick!

So mama kept shooting pictures and I worked on that stick until it was nothing but stick dust.

Take THAT you stick!

And then I thought maybe mama was laughing at me, and I was not happy.

What? You think this is funny woman? You don’t know what I sacrifice to make you safe from stick assult!

I expected to get a treat for my bravery in defeating the dangerous stick.

I would like extra treats please.

Mama felt bad about almost laughing (and also about not bringing treats), so she asked me if I wanted to chase a snowball or three. Really mama!?!?!

I’m ready mama!

Throw it, mama, just throw it!

I’ve got it mama!

It’s mine, mine, mine!

Everybody back off, this one is mine!

You can’t get away from me, snowball! I will chomp you with my teeth!

I’m a natural, I tell you!

Here comes the world famous stick breaker and snowball chompper!

Making a run for it.

Well, geeze, mama, if you’re going to throw it way over there….I’m not going to go get it. You can find it yourself.

Really, mother?

And so the game was over. Mama failed miserably at making sure I could catch that last snowball. Sometimes she forgets I’m a princess and a princess should never miss. Therefore the princess servant should make sure to only toss things that are catchable.

Sometimes mama forgets.

After all these years I should not have to explain this to her. Again.

Anyway, don’t tell her, but I had a fabulous time and when we went inside I happily spent time pulling tiny snowballs out of my furs and depositing them all over the house so that my folks could enjoy the full meaning of winter wonderland even while they were inside.

Good thing I’m beautiful.

They haven’t thanked me for that yet, I’m sure it’s just an oversight on their part.

Mama says she guesses she’ll write about the pretty snow in her own post. She says I have hijacked this one and it’s all about me. As usual.

Me and my yard.

Well of course it is, mama.

I always say you should give the people what they want. Right? That way a sheltie-princess can share the smiles…another life purpose, but don’t tell mama. It would ruin my image.

Smile!

Outdoor lights make people smile too, so I have decreed that they will stay lit until spring.


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Feeling sad for my buck

Our visiting buck walked through the backyard this morning.

Not more pictures lady!

He’s not putting any weight on his left front foot, so he limps slowly as he moves through the yard. I remember thinking his front leg was folded weirdly in the images I shot a couple evenings ago.

Stopping to look both ways before he crosses the road.

When Katie and I went out to do snow photography later in the day we could see his tracks, one foot dragging. When he runs, though, you wouldn’t know he’s injured.

Startled by some people walking on the road he heads for the woods.

I know it’s the same buck that visited with his girl earlier in the fall. In those photos I noticed a big bloody gash on his back hip. Today I got a shot of him from that side and there’s definitely a healed over wound back there.

Over exposed so I can see the wound on his back right haunch.

I hope his leg doesn’t hurt too bad, but I think it might, and that makes me sad.

I’m sorry, big guy.


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It’s gonna be a long list

About this time a couple of years ago I decided to put together a list of interesting, stupendous and fun stuff to do in the coming year. You know, sort of like resolutions, but way better.

I got some of the things on the list done in 2019, but had to carry a few of them over onto the 2020 list. The title of that post was “2020 sounds so cool.” Little did we know what 2020 would really turn out to be.

So I’m looking at my 2020 list of fun stuff and realizing that today is the last day of the year and the odds of completing any more of these fun things before the year expires is remote. Ok, impossible. But I think I should give myself a pass and use the virus as an excuse. I’ll just move some of these things to my “Fun and interesting and stupendous things to do in 2021” list, which I will put together in a future post.

Meanwhile, here’s what I did do, before chaos reigned in all our lives.

**Improve my night photography skills** Well, I did get to go to northern Michigan several times this past summer and fall, and each time I did some night sky photography. I even got some decent shots of the Neowise comet! So though there is still much room for improvement I think I made progress on this one. And because I love it so much night photography is probably going to get a place on my 2021 list.

**Spend a week in the Southwest.** We got out to Arizona in February, before we realized what was going on with the virus. It was a wonderful trip, we got to visit with a friend, and also see some amazing sights, like Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon and even more wonderful, a slot canyon! I’m so glad we went, I hope we get back out there again someday.

**Walk in at least 3 5K races.** Well. I did one race, virtually, with a friend from California. It was fun, and preparing to keep up with her (she’s a really fast walker!) got me out and walking for several weeks prior. I could have done more. Should have probably, but they’re not cheap and I sort of felt like I could go do a 5K without paying someone for the honor. But did I? No, I did not. So maybe a few 5K races will be in my future.

**Purchase a set of extension tubes for the camera and explore macro photography.** I did get a set of tubes, and I’ve tried them a couple times, neither time with success. I can’t figure out the focus, seems to be a theme in my photography lately, and I get frustrated and stop. I need to just take the camera with the tubes out into my own back yard and figure it out. How hard can it be, right?

**Take Katie camping at least twice this summer.** Well. I went camping several times but only took her along with me once to our local state park, and that was when summer was just about over. She had a good time, but doesn’t seem as enthusiastic about it as she used to be. We also camped in the back yard a few times over the summer. Each night she wanted to go back inside around 3 a.m. so I’d take her in and then head back out to finish my own sleep under the stars. When I really think about it, she probably just had to go to the bathroom and she’d most likely have gone back to bed in the tent if I’d taken her back, but to be honest, I sort of liked being able to sleep in out there and not get up at 5:30 to make her breakfast. Win/win, right?

**Meet up with other sheltie moms for doggie adventures.** Katie and I were lucky enough this year to meet up with one sheltie mom and her girl Abby this past fall. We social distanced and met outside so it all worked out. It was so nice to see them on a beautiful day down in Ann Arbor. Hopefully there will be more of that in 2021.

So…what didn’t I get done?

My camping trip to the Upper Peninsula got cancelled, and I never rode my bike once, not even in my driveway. That’s two years in a row with no bike riding. Maybe I shouldn’t even add bike riding on local trails to my 2021 list. I never made it to Alabama, haven’t seen my family down there in over two years, so that’s got to be on the top of the list, and I didn’t make it to Florida to see the sheltie boys, and here they are already over a year old!

I never took a drawing class, but I did morph my watercolor painting into a continuous project, sending smiles out almost every week since March. I’ll post more about what that’s turned into another time. And I hardly made a vegan meal, certainly not one a week like I had planned. I’m trying to go to the grocery store much less frequently and I run out of fresh stuff really fast. That’s my excuse, though it might not be the only reason. I’ll have to debate with myself over this one.

What will be on the list of fun, stupendous and interesting things to do in 2021? I don’t know yet. I might be cautious, given the virus hasn’t been stalled yet, or I might go all out.

You’ll have to wait for another post to find out.


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Merry Christmas from our family to yours

We hope you all have a fabulous holiday, however you celebrate it. Our wish for everyone is that 2021 is a more peaceful, healthier year. We’ll do our part by wearing our mask and keeping our distance for as long as it takes, even though we are very sad not to be with family this year.

We are grateful for all your friendships, and look forward to continuing the adventure soon!

Happy cuteness from Michigan!


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Comfort music

Christmas is right around the corner, and people are talking about how they’re not ready, have so much more to do, cooking, shopping, wrapping. I smile in sympathy but I don’t really get it. Especially this year.

This barn and other outbuildings are on land that is for sale, zoned commercial. So it won’t be here for much longer. I’m glad I got an image to preserve it.

Even without covid my family is small and doesn’t travel that much. We don’t do so much for Christmas anymore, though Thanksgiving is a big deal. I mailed the couple of boxes I needed to more than a week ago. I bought the ingredients for our simple Christmas supper last week.

The barns on this particular barn hunt came in many colors.

The thing I’m looking forward to most is a Christmas nap. I wonder if that shows my age? Still, it can get a little sad when the world seems hyped up and you aren’t. So yesterday I decided to go out looking for a few barns. Sort of a comfort photo hunt of sorts.

Not something you see every day, a blue barn.

And along the way I listened to XM radio, station 73, Traditional Holiday, humming along to music that my folks would have listened to back in the 50s, and some that we listed to in the 60s and 70s too.

I liked the red tractor in front of this red barn. I turned around to get it.

I remember my mom commenting that she wished they played Christmas music for awhile after the big day because she didn’t have time before it to listen. I feel lucky that I have all the time in the world to enjoy these oldies.

I want to go back when the light is better and see if I can figure out what was painted on this barn.

People like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Eartha Kitt, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee, Rosemary Clooney and Jo Stafford, groups like The Four Seasons and The Supremes, instrumentals from the likes of The London Pops, Percy Faith and Oscar Peterson.

It was a gray and rainy day. This farm seemed to sit so naturally in the landscape.

I heard so many pieces that we’ve played at our own holiday concerts, and I could imagine, and remember what it felt like to play again. The music did what music is intended to do, lifted my spirts and I arrived home after a couple of hours of Christmas music and barns smiling.

My favorite capture. A photogenic green barn!

I hope you are all smiling too, no matter what your holidays will look like. Here’s to spending time together, in person if it’s safe, virtually if it’s not. And here’s to looking forward to 2021. May it bring us all more smiles than frowns.

Classic


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Birthday celebration

Katie here.

Guess what, guess what, guess WHAT?? This was my birthday week! I turned fourteen on Tuesday, and since no one made any big deal about it I decided that I’d extend it to the whole week.

Wanna come on my birthday walk with me?

The better to give mama and daddy a chance to make me a cake. Or something.

But here it is Friday night and so far no signs of any cake. Or ice cream for that matter. No presents either, unless you count the little goodie bag my groomer gave me for Christmas.

We had a pretty day with some sunshine.

Oh yes, you heard me right. The groomer. Mama actually scheduled a spa day during my birthday week! Obviously mama doesn’t know me very well. Some doggies might like going to the spa and getting a bunch of attention and all gussied up and stuff.

I, however, am not one of those doggies.

I hate getting wet, and in case you’re not aware, a spa day involves a bath. Which is definitely wet. And I don’t like getting brushed either, and there’s a whole lot of that at spa day. And don’t get me started on nails. I double hate getting my nails trimmed.

The groomer puts these bows in my furs. I don’t know, I think they’re sort of silly.

So all in all, spa day is not my cup of tea. I’d have liked a camping trip in the woods and lots of sniffage on my birthday. And if I’m honest mama did try. She took me to one of my parks on Tuesday and we walked almost a mile up and down the hills and she let me sniff as much as I wanted.

There were lots of hills. We were either going up or down all the time.

Toward the end she even carried me up the biggest hill. She says I need to lose a pound or two. I did not point out that perhaps the extra heft was her own.

Ahem.

Anyway, most of the pictures in this post are from my birthday at my park. We had a good time, mama and me. We always do when we’re in the woods together.

I don’t mind going DOWN the hills at all.

Mama said she had ordered snow for my birthday but it didn’t arrive on time. She said something about the post office being messed up. Personally I think maybe she ordered it late, mama doesn’t always have the best sense of time you know.

But that’s OK, because you can guess what eventually showed up!

He mama! Look, it’s SNOW!

Yes, my snow arrived, and it was just the right amount, not too much that she had to shovel my poop room, but enough that it was fun to walk around. Mama and I stopped at a little dog park to walk in the snow before I got dropped off at my groomer’s house.

We had the dog park all to ourselves, so I tried out the equipment.

I didn’t know, when we were at the park, that I was headed for a bath. So I had a real good time wandering around. No one else was there, so mama and I got to run around, I even chased an old tennis ball she found.

But mostly I’d like to point out that mama did not get me anything for my birthday. So I’m wondering what you guys think I should do. I’ve seen her wrapping presents for Christmas, and I checked the other night and I don’t see anything for me in that stack either.

I don’t know how to look much cuter!

Should I go on strike? Should I whine and pant and make her go outside and then inside and then outside again all day every day until she makes amends? I’m very good at that, but I’m concerned that she won’t realze I’m trying to make a point, cause I do that every day anyway.

I want to come inside RIGHT NOW!

So I leave it up to you, my fans, to give me good ideas. What should I do to make mama take me to the store and let me pick out something for myself? I’m sure if we all put our heads together we can come up with a stupendous plan!

You’ve got some good ideas, right?

PS: This got posted late tonight because I had to wait till mama went to bed to get on her laptop. She’s always on that thing, plus I don’t want her to know I’m complaining. Never complain about the hand that feeds you and all that.

I can’t believe she took a picture of this oak leaf stuck on my cute behind.

Am I right? I know I am.

Talk later, your birthday girl Katie.

Mama DID make me frozen banana treats for my birthday. I guess she’s not all bad.